NCBA: Feed Efficiency more Important than Ever

US - With corn reaching $7 a bushel last year, feed costs amounted for 80 per cent of total costs. With this in mind, feed efficiency improvements are even more important, said Dan Shike from the University of Illinois at the NCBA Cattlemen's College. Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite editor reports.
calendar icon 2 February 2012
clock icon 1 minute read

A one per cent improvement in feed efficiency has the same economic improvement as a three per cent improvement in the rate of gain.

Despite this, Mr Shike said that the industry still seems intent on focusing on gain and output.

The poultry industry has seen a 250 per cent improvement in feed efficiency since 1957. Over this same amount of time, improvements in the cattle industry have been minimal.

With the rate of improvement slowing in beef feeding efficiency, genetic improvements in this area are a largely unwrapped opportunity, Mr Shike said.

Explaining why the beef industry is so far behind, Mr Shike said that there is no selection for feed efficiency as it is hard to identify individual feeding habits and facilities to measure this are expensive.

Feeding individually also removes social interaction, which can reduce feed intake.

Changing dyanamics are forcing producers to look at efficiency, and with little improvements made by the beef industry over the past 50 years, there is a huge opportunity to push the sector forward.

Although there is a lot to learn, said Mr Shike. Feed efficiency in cows has unique challenges - feed efficiency will affect feedlot production, but the effect it will have on the cow herd must also be considered?

Further Reading

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Charlotte Johnston, Editor

Charlotte Johnston - Editor

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